Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Surrey Wildlife Trust announced recently that their Hedgerow Heritage project has been awarded £56,600 in development funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The initial funding will allow the Surrey Wildlife Trust to further develop their plans for the Hedgerow Heritage project and apply for a full National Lottery grant of nearly half a million pounds in July 2019.
The project itself aims to revive traditional hedge planting and laying skills in the local community. With a focus on young people, ranging from school children to youth groups, the project aims to involve thousands of local people in the restoration of hedgerows, all within the iconic landscape of the North Downs, part of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
With two thirds of England being continuously hedged for over a thousand years, there is a rich tradition of hedgerow management techniques in Surrey and the project aims to pass on these skills from local hedge laying societies to community volunteers, landowners, farm managers and private sector contractors.
The project will see the planting, restoration and protection of more than 80 kilometres of hedgerows in Surrey and is part of a countywide strategy to reverse the fragmentation of the countryside and encourage stewardship of the landscape in the future.
Andrew Jamieson, project development manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re delighted to win this funding from the National Lottery players. It is an incredible opportunity to engage with local communities, to keep heritage hedgerow skills alive and pass on expertise from one generation to the next.”
There is no denying, this is a significant project and the importance of well maintained hedgerows should not be underestimated.
Hedgerows are not merely field boundaries, they play a vital role in our delicate ecosystem, providing habitat for flora and fauna and enabling species such as dormice, bats, insects and butterflies to travel safely across the landscape. In addition hedgerows prevent soil erosion and provide a natural barrier to reduce pesticides and fertilisers reaching our streams and rivers.
We certainly wish this project every success and as corporate sponsors of the Surrey Wildlife Trust we will be watching this development with enthusiasm.
If you would like more information regarding the Hedgerow Heritage project or any other Surrey Wildlife Trust project please visit the Surrey Wildlife Trust website for further information.
With springtime well and truly upon us, many Brits are already enjoying our gardens and open spaces. Maintaining lawns, hedges and borders can be a therapeutic pastime to some and an unwelcome chore to others, but having the right tool can make the difference.
For domestic and professional gardeners, the solution for large-scale garden maintenance has typically been to invest in garden machinery. The powerful petrol engines on these machines would enable the user to get much more work done than manual cutting tools, but they do have their disadvantages. Factors that some users find troublesome include levels of noise and emissions, plus the cost of fuel.
Recent developments in battery technology have reached a point where battery powered garden tools are comparable in performance and price to their fuelled counterparts. Chainsaws, trimmers and blowers powered by battery are quieter and cleaner than petrol models.
Early battery-powered garden gadgets would be let down by long charging times and short operating times. For professional users this would mean too much downtime leading to a loss of earnings unless they invested in spare batteries and chargers. The power delivered by these batteries would also be significantly less than a traditional engine, so it just wouldn’t be worth using for most applications.
In contrast, today’s lithium-ion technology delivers power and efficiency with quick charging and long life. With less moving parts than motor-driven machines, a battery-powered device also offers lower levels of vibration. This further enhances user comfort.
Another battery-powered innovation in recent years has been the robotic lawn mower. Far from being a showy gimmick, these highly efficient machines cut to a very high quality and virtually eliminate the need for man power. Husqvarna’s Automower range can cover lawns of all sizes, and once the machine has been set up, it can operate autonomously and return itself to base for charging.
The City of Edinburgh Council recently trialled Automowers in a cemetery, a school and public park, and noted the remarkable standards of quality and efficiency. With such a small storage footprint and low operating costs, the robotic mowers ticked all the boxes. Rather than rendering members of staff redundant it enabled them to focus on other areas of maintenance, thus improving productivity and saving the council time and money.
Robotic mowers are increasingly being perceived as viable alternatives to riders and pedestrian mowers because of their versatility, efficiency and connectivity. Mapping out the area of operation is done by installing the boundary and guide wires, and some Husqvarna models also have GPS connectivity via their Automower Connect app.
The latest development for Husqvarna Automowers is integration with Amazon Alexa. From September, the 315X, 430X and 450X models of Automower will be able to be controlled using a command in Alexa, giving you even more control over your mowing.
So the landscape of battery powered garden gadgets has moved quickly in recent years, and it might mean the end for fuel-driven machines. Whilst vehicles and construction equipment are still relying on petrol and diesel to be able to compete on value and performance, the market for battery powered garden tools is already taking shape.
Traditionally, most people see gardening as dominated by the older generation. The digital age however, has seen a new younger generation of gardeners emerge. These gardeners are learning from an entirely untraditional source; the internet and social media.
Social media and the internet are key players when it comes to kick starting trends, with sites like Instagram, Pintrest, Twitter and YouTube offering us inspiration at our finger tips. As a result, a huge network of young horticulturists are using these social media platforms to share the latest gardening tips and tricks or simply to find inspiration.
According to a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, 89 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds said they had either a garden or an allotment and grew their own plants and vegetables.
Growing your own food and watching what you eat is a popular trend at the moment, most notably amongst young professionals. Organic food is on the rise and people are more aware than ever that growing your own fruit and vegetables can dramatically reduce our food’s carbon footprint.
In short, attitudes are changing rapidly with many under 35’s now heavily engaged in a range of gardening activities. The last few years have also seen a sharp increase in the number of 16 to 18 year olds wanting to enroll on horticultural courses at college.
The stereotype that gardening can only be enjoyed by the older generation is quickly disappearing and one such person helping to dispel that stereotype is 19 year old YouTuber Huw Richards.
Huw’s YouTube channel HuwsNursery currently has over 20 million views with upwards of 80 thousand subscribers, making it the most successful gardening vlog in the UK.
As a result of his YouTube successes Huw has also appeared on numerous TV gardening programmes and secured a number of sponsorship deals with prominent landscape and gardening related companies.
Another young British YouTuber, 22 year old Jack Shilley features similar content on his Youtube channel. One of his most successful videos entitled “planting raspberries in containers” has racked up more than 95,000 views.
When you look at statistics like this it’s clear the younger generation are getting into gardening in a big way and thankfully there are a growing number of initiatives designed to encourage and nurture this surge of interest.
BALI are a prime example of this, their hugely successful GoLandscape initiative (of which Landscaping Solutions company director Ben West is an ambassador) aims to bring more young people in to the landscaping industry by promoting and developing real life careers.
In addition The Royal Horticultural Society also run several groups and award schemes all aimed at the younger generation.
Increasingly a number of schools and colleges across the UK are also creating gardening spaces and clubs within their grounds, in an effort to embrace the enthusiasm of this new generation of gardeners.
Back in June of this year we did a piece on the Landscaping Solutions blog covering the Camden High Line, an ambitious project providing London with its own answer to New York City’s famous ‘High Line’.
The project aims to transform an old section of raised railway track in North London into an elevated public garden and commuting route.
Proposed by local business development agency Camden Town Unlimited, the belief is that the completed project will positively impact the local residents and surrounding neighbourhoods and serve as a shining example of how existing urban infrastructure can be repurposed and reimagined to do more.
With plans and conceptual art in place, Camden Town Unlimited set about launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for taking the project through to the next stage. This includes site appraisals and surveys to establish the condition of the existing infrastructure as well as setting out the resources required to transform the disused railway.
Organisers initially set out to raise £37,000 for the proposed work but within a month of launching the campaign it had raised a staggering £62,000, over one and a half times their original goal.
This was undoubtably due in part to the overwhelming support the project received from the outset with over 300 local residents, community groups and businesses donating to the campaign, as well as Camden Market and the Mayor of London himself, Sadiq Khan.
When asked about the plans Mr Khan said: “This innovative project has the potential to become a real asset for Camden and is a great example of a community taking an idea and garnering support in order to make it a reality. I look forward to seeing it develop”.
Camden Town Unlimited are said to be thrilled with the results of the crowdfunding campaign as well as the support of the local community, businesses and the London mayor.
Whilst there is still a long way to go it is a very significant step towards construction and realising Camden Town Unlimited’s vision of a vibrant public green space and commuting route.
Refreshingly there have been a number of projects of this nature launched over recent months and as council budgets are stripped back across the UK, more and more communities are turning to crowdfunding as a means of getting community projects off the ground.
So many of these structures and spaces would no doubt have remained unloved and wasted for years to come were it not for these types of projects. Repurposing derelict or neglected spaces such as the Camden High Line re-energises the urban landscape, benefiting neighbourhoods as a whole and bringing communities together.
For further information regarding the Camden High Line or to support the project through its crowdfunding page click here.
If you would like to read our original blog article covering the launch of the Camden High Line crowdfunding campaign click here: From New York To London - The Camden High Line.